The virus in your head

Physical health problems experienced by people might not be limited to physiological disorders but to mental health conditions also, going by a recent research study.

Published: 10th October 2013 10:23 AM  |   Last Updated: 10th October 2013 10:23 AM   |  A+A-

Physical health problems experienced by people might not be limited to physiological disorders but to mental health conditions also, going by a recent research study. The study titled ‘Depression and Anxiety as Co-morbid Condition with Non Communicable Diseases’ was done by professors and students of the Centre for Health Psychology, University of Hyderabad.

“In patients suffering from four non-communicable diseases (NCDs): cardiovascular, pulmonary, gastrointestinal and dermatological disorders, 427 out of every thousand people suffer from either mild, moderate or severe depression and 403 out of every thousand suffer from borderline or case anxiety. This is an alarming number, which indicates the prevalence of anxiety and depression in people suffering from NCDs,” explained Meena Hariharan, professor, Centre for Health Psychology.

In the case of people without any medical problems, 233 of 1000 are reportedly suffering from depression and anxiety of varying severity.

Explaining how depression intervenes with NCD treatment, the health psychology professor said, “If depression goes undetected, depression related inertia leads to lack of activity. This in turn disturbs the diet, medication and exercise required for the treatment of NCDs.”

In addition to loss of individual productive hours because of mental health conditions, the situation seems to contribute to the overall loss of the nation’s productivity, an issue that has been outlined in the WHO policy – Global burden of mental disorder.

Though WHO recommends development comprehensive policies and strategies to promote mental health, besides prevention and early detection, the number of mental health professionals who can work towards this is very dismal, opines Prof Meena.

“If you see present conditions, the number of the professionals are not enough to cater to even one-fifth of the demands. And mental health professionals are needed in 58 psychiatry specilisations, like sports psychiatrists, education psychiatrists, health psychiatrists etc. Mental health professionals are needed even for a general healthy mental well-being.”

Pointing out that India will be celebrating 100 years of psychology in 2015, the professor urges that every Indian university must establish a school of psychology with at least five specilisations to maintain the balance and ensure the general well being of the Indian population.


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